"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?" Henry David Thoreau
Kevin, Rebecca and I gave the sermon (I use that term loosely) recently at our church. Rather than a sermon, we talked about our friends who have joined us from Africa. Kevin started us off by inviting one of our Congolese friends to join him up front, and they talked about his family’s story. Why they fled Congo, how they made their way to a refugee camp in Rwanda and then how they eventually made their way to Boise. Their story is not for the faint of heart. Their father was killed, their mother fled in the night with all five of her children, and another on the way. They spent 15 years in the Kiziba Refugee Camp in Rwanda, living in tiny homes with tent like roofs, dirt floors, no running water, and no cooking facilities. It is simply a miracle they are living safely in the U.S. today.
Rebecca followed with a Biblical view of refugees. She highlighted those characters in the Bible who were refugees, the Israelites (famine) and even Jesus himself (persecution).
I was the caboose. My part of our presentation consisted of a series of Tweets - insightful thoughts about life - gleaned from those I follow on Twitter. This is apparently what you do when you have no profound original thoughts.
Here are a few of my very favorite Tweets.
My desire was to show the heart I believe Jesus wants us to have for those in our world who suffer. I wanted not only to introduce empathy but to fuel action. I talked about our increasing involvement in the lives of the refugees who attend our church. These dear friends who have grabbed hold of our hearts with no sign of ever letting go.
While I spoke I wanted to share how much greater the reward is than what we give. It is little trouble to drive my friend to an appointment and babysit her sweet children. How could I do otherwise when I know her alternative is a lengthy bus ride with a two year old on her back and a five year old in hand? This, while she is just weeks from delivering her fourth child. To sit comfortably at home knowing this seems unconscionable.
Unfortunately, I suffer from an odd condition with no scientific name. It's symptoms are this: many times (okay every time) when I try to speak of things of great beauty or sadness or anything that tugs at my heart, tears come. There it is. I am a crier. My friends all know this. I can barely read the grocery list tear-free.
What I wanted to say last week was this. To be included in the lives of our new friends is like nothing I've known. It is new and beautiful and full of surprises and sometimes confusing and just - full. Last night, I drove my sweet friend and her children from her brothers' and sister's apartment back to the homeless shelter where they have been living since January. When I arrived at the apartment, I was greeted with enthusiasm. Each family member came out of whatever room they happened to be in to greet me, shake hands with me, and as they always, always do ask, "How is Kevin? How is Rebecca? How is your day?" The full house, the barely controlled chaos - I love it all. This. This is what I wanted to say last week when I stood before my church family and made a feeble attempt at saying just this - When you open your life to the refugees living in your community, they will fill your heart with something you didn't know was missing. That you didn't even know existed.
Jesus, please help me see the face of God in each of us.